Advice-giving, Aging Parents & Adult Children

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My parents and me.

Advice-giving can trip up the elder parent – adult child relationship and even cause painful divisions between parent and child.

My mother will ask me a question and the answer is fairly straightforward, but then I’ll keep on answering, advising, really. At other times, I offer unsolicited advice about one thing or another. Usually my mother listens, but it’s not uncommon for her to give me the aggravated look that she used when I was five years old and not following her directions. It’s miraculous that my parents, while momentarily irritated with me, are quick to forgive and, yes, even offer me their own advice. We trust one another, and that’s key.

I know that I should be better about offering too much advice, but it’s hard.

A thoughtful article, The Gift of Presence, the Perils of Advice, posted at Krista Tippett’s On Being website, has encouraged me to think about the advice I so effortlessly offer my mom. In his essay, On Being columnist Parker J. Palmer writes that people who need support find it considerably more helpful when we concentrate on listening and asking questions and give advice only when a person insists that we give it. I need to get better at asking questions.

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Elder Perspectives on Life and Love for Younger Generations

book-cover-305x450Those of us lucky enough to have aging parents who live long and remain nominally healthy are often struck by the wisdom we hear as they ruminate about relationships and love in the past. To really understand what they are getting at we must toss away any notions that our parents are merely clinging to the “good old days” and instead gaze through a prism that acknowledges their wise and long-term perspective.

Karl Pillemer, Ph.D. writes, “What elders have that young people don’t is something special: the view from the end. For them it’s no longer a mystery as to how everything will turn out — it’s already happened.”

Dr. Pillemer is the author of 30 Lessons for Loving. I wrote a short Valentine’s Day post, Elder’s Share Wisdom About Love, sharing a Next Avenue review of the book, and was intrigued. I bought the book and posted it here on this blog as my current read. Now I’ve read the book and have more to say.

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Second Wind: A New Book and Tour by Dr. Bill Thomas

second-wind-coverLeave it to Dr. Bill Thomas to write a new book, in this case Second Wind, and then use the book tour, not just to publicize its release by joining radio personalities and attending book signings, but instead to educate in a big way. Dr. Bill, some of his Eden Alternative and Green House Project colleagues, and other friends have undertaken a nationwide educational SecondWind Tour — with stops in 25 cities between the beginning of March and the end of May 2014. He’s using the book and the tour to promote his philosophy — and his beliefs — about aging.

Dr. Thomas’s philosophy is powerful, which is good because he is proclaiming and evangelizing to a large and very powerful demographic — the boomers — a generation that is beginning to age in earnest. A goodly number of us don’t quite know what to think about aging or how to get on with it. Of course we know we are going to age but are definitely uncertain about next steps. Participants at one of Dr. Thomas’s SecondWind Tour events — my husband and I attended the Washington, DC festivities — see and hear quite a bit about aging, gaining some insight, ideas, and tools that stimulate even more thinking. Did I mention that Dr. Bill is a great storyteller?

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Neat Stats on Smartphone Ownership

So you have a senior parents who’s interested in smartphone? Here’s a story, and some interesting statistics to boot.

Last Wednesday I dropped my iPhone on the driveway. I’ve managed to avoid such a mishap for more than two-and-a-half years, but Wednesday was my day of reckoning, I guess. The touch screen shattered like safety glass, not falling apart, so I put clear package tape on the screen to ensure it did not come apart while I made some fast decisions. Interestingly, the touch screen still worked and with the tape, I could carry on.

At first I thought I might just purchase a new iPhone the next morning, but then I remembered that the presumed announcement for the iPhone 5 is next week, in early October. Also, I’ve promised to give my 85-year-old mom my iPhone when I get a new one. She is really excited about this, and if you read a recent post, Smartphone Ownership Among Boomers and Seniors Explodes, over at Aging Onlineyou’ll understand a bit more about why mom is eager to get started with a smartphone.

The thing is, she is simply tired of everyone else being able to look things up on their phones when she can’t do it too.

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A Tribute to the Legacies in My Parents’ Generation

I’m an adult child with aging parents, and all my life I’ve looked around with awe, observing what people my parents’ age and older have left for their families and their world.

Bridges, highways, businesses, savings accounts, good schools, paid off mortgages, parks, protective regulations, Medicare, social security, you name it. Even foreign aid to build up countries that had been our enemies during World War II.

The generations that preceded us, and especially the greatest generation, had a finely tuned respect for public service. Civics was important to them, and they understood how building a government, whether national or local, encouraged participation and helped others. Did I mention a love of education?

They also believed in paying their way with taxes — none of this lowering taxes and increasing debt and not paying for wars. I’ve lost track of the number of times my parents and grandparents told my brother and me that  “…taxes are a privilege in a democratic society…  for all of us, not just our family.” These were not affluent people talking.

We adult children and those who have followed us have mistreated and trivialized the gifts that were given to us.

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Caring About the Patient While Caring for the Patient – UChicago

Click here to visit the U of Chicago announcement site and watch a video.

The Bucksbaum Foundation has donated $42 million to the University of Chicago to create an institute that concentrates on clinical excellence with a focus on partnering with patients. What a common-sense, and timely idea. Disclosure: I have a graduate degree from U of C.

As university president, Robert J. Zimmer comments in the press release:

This generous gift offers the opportunity to bring a new level of rigor to the study of the doctor-patient relationship and clinical judgment. The Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence provides an important complement to the biological research and clinical strengths of this institution.

The main focus? Developing the environment for better communication thereby ensuring better patient care (and better outcomes when it comes to recovery). Adult children who are helping older senior parents through medical care often find that communication gaps occur frequently and are complicated by information overload and reticence of older patients to ask questions.

According to the announcement on the website: Continue reading